Magical Torture, Pain, and the Unending War

Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka Post Title Image

Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka Episode 12 Review

Don’t expect an ending or even a satisfying last ditch battle. This is more a conglomerate of character moments, set up for future plot lines, and random flash backs that just kind of splatter their way across the screen for twenty minutes before we get a narration that more or less tells us the story is nowhere near finished. Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka has been at times underwhelming and has never really lived up to its potential, but nowhere is this more clear than in the final episode which mostly just leaves the series on its lowest note yet.

Mia- Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka Episode 12

That doesn’t mean that there aren’t some interesting points along the way and the series as a whole has been kind of fun and introduced some interesting ideas and concepts. But it does mean that as a season it is sort of lacking given the absolute lack of resolution in this final episode.

Part of the problem is this episode is jumping between Asuka and Kurumi writing reports, time at school and hanging out with friends, the special forces group making an alliances with some other agency that I can’t remember in order to gather intelligence, Kurumi torturing the captured magical girls, a sex scene between the villains, and flashes to what the other magical five are up to, plus the flashbacks to prior to the end of the previous war. That’s way too much and as a result everything feels like it is just kind of crammed in and nothing gets developed or dealt with or feels overly satisfying.

Affiliate Link
WORLD WAR Z (MULTI-LANGUAGE)

It isn’t a great way for this anime to go out this season and it probably has shot itself in the foot for a season 2 (then again, maybe it already has one planned, who knows). I do know that this series hasn’t made me interested enough to go read the books and with an ending like that I’m not sure I’ll watch season 2.

Asuka - Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka

Still, this one is going to be a tricky one to fully review with some fairly strong positives in some areas and some really big flaws elsewhere. I’ll have to think that through but for now Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka is done for the Winter season.

Thanks for reading
Karandi James
avatar
Three great ways you can support
100 Word Anime:

Patreon2

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Advertisements

Bring the Pain; It Won’t Stop These Magical Girls

Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka Post Title Image

Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka Episode 11 Review

As Asuka faces off against Giess and War Nurse Kurumi faces of against Whiplash, the fighting above ground grinds to a halt with The Russian magical girl rescuing Mia as well as Nozomi and Sayako. Of course, there’s no more reason for the fighting to go on above ground given the box with the magical tool in it has already left the building and so the fight below ground, while grand and all, is mostly just marking time.

Asuka vs Giess - Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka  - Episode 11

Kurumi gets quite the beating in this episode, both physically and emotionally. We already knew War Nurse wasn’t amazing at hand to hand combat so her opponent couldn’t be any worse. Yet, despite flash backs to days of being bullied and a lot of mental trauma, War Nurse isn’t going to take a beating lying down.

Kurumi - Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka - Episode 11

This is probably the best showing Kurumi has been given so far in this series. She’s wanting to go help Asuka, but more than that, she doesn’t want to feel pathetic. She doesn’t want to return to who she was. Kurumi gives this fight everything she has and while she is still very much a support fighter, you have to respect her victory in this instance.

Asuka - Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka - Episode 11

Asuka on the other hand is a front line fighter but her opponent is also ill-suited. She takes significant damage including the loss of an arm, but don’t think that’s going to stop her.

Now, I should point out, that the fact that Nozomi lost an arm earlier in the series and they simply reattached it takes a lot of the tension out of this sequence. There’s never any doubt that Kurumi will get there and repair Asuka’s arm for her so the cringe and fear that should really work with this scene isn’t there. So instead it feels a little bit flat despite the apparent gravity of a teenage girl having her arm torn off.

Affiliate Link
Magical Girl Special Ops Asuka Vol. 1

Again though, we know it isn’t going to be permanent, unless Kurumi dies before the fight is over but that seemed unlikely, and also, the audience knows the reason for this fight has already gone. Asuka isn’t aware of it so is fighting for real, but it makes it hard for the audience to invest.

Of course, that doesn’t make Asuka’s winning attack any less cool to watch.

Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka Episode 11

I don’t know what they are going to do to Whiplash but I don’t think it will matter. She was pretty broken after losing her fight and then Giess put the final nail in the coffin by revealing what his side did to her.

Whiplash - Magical Girl Spec Ops Asuka - Episode 11

The one thing I do know is that none of this will be properly solved next week unless it is done at break neck speed so it seems we’ll be left hanging at season’s end. And was that last comment by the villain about the magical tool a sign that Sayako is actually going to become a magical girl or am I reading too much into that?

Thanks for reading
Karandi James
avatar
Three great ways you can support
100 Word Anime:

Patreon2

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

The Battle of the Magical Girls Begins

Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka Post Title Image

Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka Episode 10 Review

With the invasion of the military base and the parallel invasion of Naha city occurring at the end of last episode it was clear that this week Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka would be focused on the battle at hand. What follows is a fairly scattered affair with the audience jumping from one scene of the battle to another and seeing Tamara and Mia in action at their respective locations as well as following the actions of various soldiers and Nozomi and Sayako in amongst the fight before we finally get down to business in the bunker with Rapture, War Nurse and the main villains of this fight.

Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka Episode 10 Disas

While it is a scattered affair frantically jumping from one point where the soldiers are being beaten back to another, interspersed with civilians fleeing and dying and ordinary police being incredibly heroic before dying, all of this cut with scenes of the military commanders glaring at their screens and musing about potential strategy, it works really well because the set up for this fight was put in place last episode. Even though the overall motives of the villains is still unclear, making that the weakest link in the whole series, the basic parameters for this sequence were clearly laid out and the target of the General in the basement was pretty straight-forward, even if it turns out they were after something the general had rather than the general herself.

Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka Nozomi and Sayako

Action sequences in this anime remain very entertaining to watch with a real sense of pace and movement about them. It makes getting screen caps kind of difficult because of the amount of motion blur at times but at the same time, watching the sequence it is very solid portrayal of a frantic fight sequence. It’s also fun watching the transition between the soldiers and their standard tactics compared to the Magical Girls who are almost a whole army on their own and have their own way of fighting.

Magical Girl Spec Ops Asuka Episode 10 Mia

Affiliate Link
Magical Girl Special Ops Asuka Vol. 1

While characterisation gets put to the side for a large majority of the episode, Asuka still manages to deliver a decent effort at remembering that she was traumatised by the previous war and has yet to really accept that she’s back involved with the conflict. While many an anime hero would have committed to fighting and then never mentioned their trauma again, Asuka is wearing hers on her sleeve and it really is only Kurumi’s presence at her side while they wait that keeps her grounded and prevents her from breaking down entirely as they listen to the sounds of battle and dying over the radio.

Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka Episode 10 Kurumi and Asuka

Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka remains a fairly decent viewing experience and while it has at times pushed the violence a little further than some people would like, its been delivering a reasonably compelling story and it seems to be heading to a decent climax. Now whether or not we get a decent end point or are left hanging is really all that’s left to find out in the next two episodes and that could really change my overall opinion of the show.

Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka Episode 10
Well, I’m scared.

Thanks for reading
Karandi James
avatar
Three great ways you can support
100 Word Anime:

Patreon2

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

The Dark Side of the Magical Girl Myth

Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka Post Title Image

Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka Episode 8 Review

Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka continues to hover on that narrow line between dark and violent with narrative purpose and gratuitous with a scene this week of Kurumi torturing the captured magical girl stepping over the line and firmly into gratuitous territory. While the themes and ideas in Spec-Ops continue to be interesting and characterisation at least for Asuka fairly solidly handled, it is scenes like this one, that could easily have been cut down and still maintained their effectiveness, that will make this series fairly hard to recommend without some strong caveats attached.

Magical Girl Spec Ops Asuka Episode 8 Kurumi

Kurumi’s character is also becoming something of a problem. While her obsession with Asuka was already known and understood, this week we see that Kurumi has really got some issues and needs a lengthy amount of mental health care at this point. What she doesn’t need to be is put in charge of extracting information from prisoners and while I get the need for the military to use magical girls, I’m not entirely convinced that relying on someone that unbalanced is exactly a great plan A.

Magical Girl Spec Ops Asuka Episode 8

However, equal opportunity for crazy this episode as we see another girl with some mental health issues (grounded firmly in trauma caused by drunken humans killing her mother and crippling her followed by abuse by her father) being given the opportunity to become a magical girl for the villains. Her transformed costume is perhaps the least subtle so far and isn’t exactly magical girl so much as BDSM and really makes you wonder how far they will push it. Not to mention, her initiation being to kill the four teens who kills her mother while in her human and un-transformed state really does make you wonder just how far she is willing to go.

Magical Girl Spec Ops Asuka Episode 8 Asuka

Still, for all that this episode was definitely getting close to the line I’ll draw for myself, it continues to pose excellent questions for the characters to deal with and while the villain’s grand plan is still no where near clear at least these villains aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty. If you can handle the violence, blood and torture, Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka remains an intriguing viewing experience even if at times it isn’t as nuanced as it needs to be to really land the point it seems to be trying to make.

Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka Episode 9 Review

Episode 9 of Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka gives us almost an all out war as the military base hosting talks with the spirit world comes under attack by the Disas. It’s a tense situation and we have magical girls all ready to fight but civilian casualties are definitely going to happen.

Magical Girl Spec Ops Asuka Episode 9

For all that the episode ends up building to one of the biggest conflicts yet, we still have quite a bit of downtime early in the episode as they set up the scene and move all the characters into position. Kurumi and Asuka are reunited with Mia and Tamara as well as a general from the spirit world who apparently is the target of the most recent attack. Meanwhile their classmates are in the city currently being attacked.

Magical Girl Spec Ops Asuka Episode 9

But they still manage to waste time on a stupid fan-service joke which just kind of broke the tension of the episode entirely.

There’s a lot going on and a lot at stake and I’m really kind of looking forward to seeing where they go next episode. It would be great to see all the magical girls fighting and really great to see how the military handle this current threat.

Thanks for reading
Karandi James
avatar
Three great ways you can support 100 Word Anime:

Patreon2

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Or, use one of my product affiliate links.
MAGICAL GIRL SPEC-OPS ASUKA LARGE TOTE BAG BLACK
MAGICAL GIRL SPEC-OPS ASUKA LARGE TOTE BAG BLACK

It’s Raining Magical Girls and Deals With Other Worlds

Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka Post Title Image

Magical Girl Spec Ops Asuka Episode 7 Review

Despite Asuka’s commitment to join the team again, it isn’t all smooth sailing this week in Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka. While there aren’t any serious consequences, at least not for the team we’re following, Asuka freezing mid-battle at the thought of one of the team members being hurt could have had dire consequences and it was only thanks to Kurumi that she snapped back out of her frozen state. Honestly, how they are treating Asuka’s character remains the best thing about this anime.

Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka Episode 7 Asuka
Another flash back from the war – Asuka really needs some help dealing with her emotions after everything she’s been through.

However, we then have to look at the rest of what is happening. And this episode I even found myself looking at the overall episode count and wondering just where this story intends to leave us at the end of episode 12 because unless we are in for a really rushed conclusion, they still seem to be introducing world building elements at this point so it doesn’t seem likely we’re heading for a round resolution.

Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka Episode 7

So with a plot likely to remain unfinished what else have we got. The tone remains pretty interesting. I like this version of a dark magical girl story where the girls are dealing with the reality of facing war at a young age, using magical powers isn’t about pretty sparkles, and consequences are very real (with the exception of Nozomi because they totally undid any consequence around that). I also like the weird mix of military and magic they have going on. It all kind of works.

Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka Episode 7
I don’t know what her name was, nor do I suppose it matters, but here’s another ‘bad’ magical girl. You can tell because of the smile.

What works less is that every villainous character feels the need to pull this ‘hey, look at me I’m crazy’ face just to show off that they are in fact a a villain. As well done as Asuka and even Kurumi’s characterisation has been the villains are really the weak link here (and I seem to be saying that a lot this season as I look at Krone in The Promised Neverland).

Magical Girl Spec Ops Asuka Episode 7

Still, this was a fun episode, we met a new magical girl from the magical five, had a cool fight sequence, some more interesting character work with Asuka, and generally the episode just kind of flew by. The only real drama with it was the welcoming party they threw Asuka. It seemed like they were going for some levity or whatever but the whole thing just sat really weirdly at the start of this episode. Fortunately, the rest of the episode more than made up for it.

Thanks for reading
Karandi James
avatar
Three great ways you can support 100 Word Anime:

Patreon2

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Or, use one of my product affiliate links.
GUNDAM 40TH ANNIVERSARY BEST ANIME MIX – BEYOND
GUNDAM 40TH ANNIVERSARY BEST ANIME MIX - BEYOND

Everybody Loses In A Magical War

Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka Post Title Image

Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka Episode 6 Review

There are two distinct parts of this episode that kind of overlap through a character Asuka encounters and gives directions to who later becomes significant in Mia’s story. I’m going to start looking at Asuka’s side of the episode because that is the less significant part of Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka this week.

Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka Episode 6 Asuka

We begin with Asuka and her school friends having a study session. There’s some very clunky exposition where Asuka is asked what her dream is, but otherwise the only up-shot of this whole scene is that Nozomi is bubbly as can be almost as if her whole torture didn’t happen… Oh wait, it didn’t because they erased her memory. They do decide to go to a festival which leads to the main girls in yukatas and Asuka running into the blonde girl she gave directions to earlier who tells her that her wish should be to be happy and everything else will sort itself out.

Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka Episode 6 Festival

I’m not really sure why they bothered to bring the rest of the members of M squad to the festival and all and all this whole sequence just seems relatively like episode filler. I don’t really like saying that given it is still kind of fun to watch, but I can’t imagine this has much purpose other than adding to the overall contrast because Mia’s story is anything but happy filler.

Mia arrives in Japan to investigate the guy in the box we saw at the villains’ lair earlier in the season. She transforms and she and her team check out the apartment before finding the magical girls’ motto written on the mirror. Then the blonde girl who has been encountering Asuka all episode shows up and it turns out she’s a magical mercenary who wants revenge because her family were killed during the war. It all seems just a little bit over the top and Mia is completely cold. Why? Because her family were killed by terrorists. Turns out no one is winning in this war because the disas were a threat and the military used methods that killed civilians, terrorists have risen up but they also kill civilians and basically everyone is suffering from some kind of regret or trauma.

Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka - Episode 6 - Mia

It isn’t the most deft handling of the themes but it does get the point across. I do kind of wonder what is going to happen when Mia, Kurumi and Asuka end up together because it doesn’t seem like Mia is really looking for a team to join and she has good reason to suspect one of the magical five is involved in her case. I guess we’ll find out.

Thanks for reading
Karandi James
avatar
Three great ways you can support 100 Word Anime:

Patreon2

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Or, use one of my product affiliate links.
ITEMYA BOOK OF MAGIC BAG
ITEMYA BOOK OF MAGIC BAG

This Is Not How One Puts Together A Solid Plan

Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka Post Title Image

Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka Episode 4 Review

Nozomi is pretty much in a horrible situation made worse by bureaucracy that is worried about relationships and power struggles rather than saving her life. This isn’t easy to watch and at the end of the day I’m still feeling like the villains really need more motive than what they’ve been given. Perhaps there’s a grand plan but it isn’t overly clear yet so this just seems like pain for pain’s sake.

Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka Episode 4 Nozomi

Which is something this anime had tip-toed around previously but avoided. It had heaped pain upon the characters but there always seemed like a sound narrative reason, whereas the torture sequence here with Abigail grinning over it while she holds her camera just feels very much unnecessary. We’ve seen enough already in this anime to know the stakes are high so just seeing the set up in the room would have been sufficient to create a sense of urgency and terror without actually witnessing the torture of a young girl. While some anime show too little to really create a sense of menace, this one had already firmly established what could happen. We could have figured it out. Ultimately it just ends up being an uncomfortable viewing experience.

Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka Episode 4 Nozomi's father

More interesting though is what is happening in the background with the father desperately trying to get permission to rescue his daughter but being blocked by bickering factions. It is far too believable and fairly tragic that the girl’s life isn’t the number one priority from the point of view of organisations that apparently exist to protect people. More time on this angle would have really been appreciated as it made this somewhat fantastical situation feel very grounded in our reality.

Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka Episode 4 Asuka

Less pleasing is the lack of planning by Kurumi and Asuka before charging in to the rescue. Equally, the villains still don’t have much in the way of a clear objective. Abigail has said she wants to capture a magical girl alive and there’s some scheme there but details are scarce and mostly the villains seem kind of foolish. It will be interesting to see if there’s more going on here or if the villains really are just going to remain cackling lunatics.

Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka Episode 4 Abigail

I’ll admit, this episode took some of the shine of this series by focusing on the pain rather than the impact of it and by not really giving enough attention to motives and characters. That said, it isn’t a train wreck and provided it leads somewhere this could still be quite compelling. We’ll see what it does next.

Thanks for reading
Karandi James
avatar
Three great ways you can support 100 Word Anime:

Patreon2

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Or, use one of my product affiliate links.
Magical Girl Special Ops Asuka Vol. 1
Magical Girl Special Ops Asuka Vol. 1